Public Lecture: Professor Rosemary Joyce

Thursday 23 May 2019, 6.00PM to 19:30

Speaker(s): Professor Rosemary Joyce

Professor Rosemary Joyce is an internationally renowned expert on gender, sexuality, and the body; on how the use of alcoholic beverages as social lubricants provided the surprising stimulus to develop chocolate; and on how archaeologists can rethink social life by attending more carefully to the most common intersection archaeologist have with people in the past: their death and burial. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, was a Fulbright Senior Scholar, and has received numerous other awards for her scholarship.

Professor Joyce will be giving a talk on her fascinating recent work in Contemporary Archaeology in a lecture titled: Confronting the Limits of Material Properties: From Kitty Litter to Granite in the Archaeology of Nuclear Waste

There will be a 17:15 wine reception in the King's Manor Common Room before the lecture. 


How can we ensure that people in the distant future do not excavate hazardous waste that we are burying today, produced from military and civilian nuclear programs? When the US government faced that challenge, it turned to cross-disciplinary "experts" for advice. Two very different proposals emerged from planning, both based on assuming that we can abstract features from monuments built in the distant past that helped them survive physically, to convey messages to us today. Much of what these experts proposed drew on common sense ideas about sites that archaeologists study. But where the experts saw predictability, an archaeologist today sees more unpredictable effects. Where the experts assumed things that have lasted for thousands of years were intended to do so, archaeologists demonstrate how survival is sometimes an outcome of unanticipated effects: things we see as monuments today were rarely, if ever, intended to survive for us. Even the assumptions the planners made about the materials used in sites like Stonehenge turn out to be questionable, based more on what people think about substances like granite and kitty litter than how those materials actually behave. This talk explores how we might think about long term survival drawing on what archaeology actually shows.

Location: King's Manor K/133

Admission: FREE